News / Africa

Somalia's Assembly to Debate Controversial Constitution

Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed (R) and Speaker of the Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan attend the National Constituent Assembly meeting in the capital Mogadishu, July 25, 2012.
Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed (R) and Speaker of the Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan attend the National Constituent Assembly meeting in the capital Mogadishu, July 25, 2012.
NAIROBI, Kenya — After months of wrangling and postponement in Somalia, an 825-member constituent assembly will have the final word on the country's new constitution. Despite some objections, representatives believe the constitution ultimately will be approved.

Assembly representatives will have a chance for debate and to add their recommendations before voting "yes" or "no" on whether to adopt the new constitution.

The assembly, which brings together Somali community leaders from the various clans, sub-clans and the diaspora, is part of the process for ending an eight-year political transition and forming a new government.

One member, Ali Abdirahman Ahmed, an elder from the Digil and Mirifle clan, told VOA his clan instructed its representatives to pass the constitution. He said that doing so will help bring an end to the suffering of the Somali people in and out the country.

Making a successful transition

Ahmed said the reason his clan's representatives were told to vote for the adoption of the constitution is because their daughters are giving birth under trees, their sons are dying in the oceans. He said that if you go to every prison in the five continents you find our sons and daughters are languishing in those prisons. He said his nation must find ways to finish this transition so that they can have some sort of accountability in the next government.

The constituent assembly has been postponed several times. It was held up most recently by clan elders who expressed concerns about certain clauses in the constitution and insisted on making changes before it passed.

Mohamed Hassan Haad, the chairman of the Hawiye clan elders, refused to attend the assembly as an observer, and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the process.

"Whatever they are going to work on," Haad said, "there are people who have already worked on that [constitution] and they will be instructed what to do and what to say, and those are some of the things that made us walk out of the meeting hall. They are working under the terms of some politicians who want a position in the government. In such a situation we could not represent our people when such things are taking place."

In previous interviews with VOA, Haad has said his strongest objections are that the constitution grants too many rights for women to run for high office, and that it does not specify what city will be Somalia's capital.

Assembly member Ibrahim Salah, from the Gedo region, said that although the draft is not perfect, members of the assembly are being given a chance to suggest changes.

He said if you look at the draft constitution, since it is written by a human being, certain things can be wrong and others right; it is a not holy book. But when checked, the mistakes are minimal, and changes can be made, he said.

Attempt toward progress

The United Nations helped to draft the constitution and is supporting Somalia's political process.

U.N. Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga told the constituent assembly that the new constitution recognizes the fundamental importance of Somalia as an Islamic state, blended with modern 21st century society.

He called the constituent assembly the first step toward completing a political transition and forming a new government by August 20.

Somalia has been without a stable central government, and has endured two decades of war and lawlessness, since the ouster of former president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jay from: USA
July 27, 2012 12:10 PM
I think it is true that Somalia had tough 20 years of civl war, which many organized criminals including extremists have took advantage of. That does not mean the whole nation of Somalia represents a terrorist nation, it is just uneducated and ignorent to say so and label many peace loving Somalis like that. As a Somali patriot, I would love to say " We will overcome and with the help of our EAC brothers (AMISOM), Somalia will rise again from the civil war ruins. Thanks to the International Community's commitment and support. This National Constitution Assembly (NCA) is the first baby step, most Somali intellectuals will agree that it is about a time for us (Somalis) to move forward with a federal constitution, which has its checks and balances of power for the sake of the common good pf the country. It is going to happen, and any current disagreements will be sorted out by the upcomming Members of the Parliment (MPs). Somalia will surely , but slowly get out of the woods.

by: Ahmed from: Norway
July 27, 2012 7:40 AM

A bad constitution is better then no constitution. This document will help the country achieve muchly needed milestone. People that critises the document are either, against universal rights of women or they want a greater influence for their clans and constituencies

by: James Deng Dimo from: Wau South Sudan
July 27, 2012 4:24 AM
James Deng Dimo from Wau South Sudan
It sound fantastic that Somalia is turning to a shadow point of federal government system that determine the opposition of other clans in Somalia but question is will they distinguished their country image from being a terrorist nation?
Introducing a new government system in Somalia will change Somalia from terrorism.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs